Apple’s Self Service Repair Program Makes MacBooks ‘Less Repairable,’ Says iFixit

Apple on Monday expanded its Self Service Repair program to M1 MacBook models. On Tuesday, the company published repair manuals for M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks and started accepting orders for genuine replacement parts through its  Self Service Repair Store.

The repair gurus at iFixit could be happier with Apple’s implementation, though. iFixit said Apple’s approach to DIY MacBook repairs actually makes some models “less repairable.”

In particular, the repair experts have an M1 MacBook Pro battery-sized bone to pick with the tech giant. Apple’s official M1 MacBook Pro battery replacement manual is 162 pages long.

The repair guide is that long because Apple currently doesn’t sell standalone replacement MacBook Pro batteries. Instead, customers have to purchase and install an entire “Top Case with Battery and Keyboard.”

Unfortunately for MacBook Pro owners, the notebook is built on the top case. Replacing the entire top case requires you to take the whole MacBook apart and remove every component from inside it.

“Apple seems to be saying, ‘Actually our batteries are so hard to replace, they’re literally the last part you remove,’ iFixit remarked.

The cost of the replacement top case from Apple doesn’t make things any better. Even with an $88 credit for returning your old top case, a new one will set you back $439 USD.

If the thought of paying 30-50% of the cost of a brand new MacBook just to replace the battery doesn’t sit right with you, you’re not alone.

Apple is presenting DIY repairers with a excruciating gauntlet of hurdles: read 162 pages of documentation without getting intimidated and decide to do the repair anyway, pay an exorbitant amount of money for an overkill replacement part, decide whether you want to drop another 50 bucks on the tools they recommend, and do the repair yourself within 14 days, including completing the System Configuration to pair your part with your device. Which makes us wonder, does Apple even want better repairability?

To Apple’s credit, the upper case assembly does note that “in the future, a battery replacement part will be available.” For now, however, the DIY solution available to M1 MacBook Pro owners looking for a battery replacement is less than ideal.

The M1 MacBook Air doesn’t carry the same malediction thanks to its “battery-on-a-tray,” as iFixit called it.

Apple’s Self Service Repair program for iPhones and Macs launched back in April and is currently only available in the U.S. There is no word yet on when Apple will expand the program to Canada, but the company plans to roll it out to European countries later this year.